New Kids on the Blog: An interview with R. M. Garino (@RMGarino)

This is it! The ultimate ‘New Kids on the Blog’ blog for 2018! And here to help us leave behind the old and usher in the new is Richard Garino, husband, father and author of a brand new book fit to skip a New Years Eve party for. Looking forward to 2019, I’m hoping to talk to a host of new authors, introduce some new sections to the blog and, of course, most importantly, doing a great deal of writing! But more about me next year. Check out my interview with Richard below and be sure to grab his books to help you start 2019 with great fanfare.

Richard Garino, Author of the ‘Chaos of Souls’ series.

“There are a great deal of books out there. We’ve put a tremendous amount of effort in telling our story, and crafting an experience for the reader. An enormous amount of time went into the execution of the cover design, as well as the interior layout, and the website: http://www.rmgarino.com/. We’ve paid attention to the editing, the story telling, the characters, and the plotlines. What we’ve tried to create is an immersive experience where the reader can get lost in the world. That’s why the books are larger than the average ebook. We want you to sit and stay for a while.”

1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing for most of my life. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with what The Story is, how it functions, its hidden depths, and the different masks it wears. I live in the mountains of the east coast [of the USA] with my wife, three children, and all the characters still waiting their turn to speak. I am an avid brewer of beer and strong coffee, a voracious reader, an aficionado of fine cigars and single malt scotch, and am not nearly as obsessed with video games as my wife believes me to be.

2. You are an author. Tell us about your books.

One day my wife, Dorothy, mentioned to me that she would not want to meet an angel. You think you’d want to, but the reality of such a creature would be so terrifying, so awe inspiring, that you would feel insignificant. We tossed the idea back and forth, building on the concept, and found ourselves with this: what if what we think we know about angels is all wrong? What if those that fell were the good guys, and the bad guys were the angels who remained true?

In essence, that is the basis of the Chaos of Souls series. Here, we have a host of angels who defied the Creator’s command and entered the world. As punishment, they were ripped apart, shattered into millions of tiny fragments, shuffled, mixed with matter and reformed. They know what they once were, but they have forgotten why they left. These are the Lethen’al. The angels who remained true have learned to enter creation, hidden in the folds of matter, and they hunt the fallen angels. They are the Lo’ademn. One in particular they call the Apostate, who was charged to guard the way back. He has grown weary of his exile, and seeks to gather their fractured souls and return them to Heaven.

The Lethen’al have withstood the Apostate’s assaults for thousands of years, hidden away behind the walls of the Golden Vale.

As the series begins, Angus and Arielle arrive at the Gates that separate their world from that of creation. They are Lethen’al, but their souls are almost complete, and they remember more than the others. Book 1, The Gates of Golorath, tells of how they meet and are drawn together, even though the Blademasters and their squads try to keep them apart. As they grow closer, everything around them is affected.

Book 2 of the series, Angels of Perdition, has just been released, and it picks up where Gates left off. The opposition to Angus and Arielle’s union is removed, and as their marriage approaches, the parents of the Lethen’al, the E’ine, emerge from the shadows. They bring with them the threat of the Soul Chamber, and children begin to disappear.

3. What motivates you to write?

Not quite sure how to answer this one without sounding like a lunatic. Writing is a compulsion for me. I started crafting stories when I was ten, and I’ve never stopped. Everything I look at I try to describe. I look at how events come together, leading to the (seemingly) inevitable conclusion. Daydreaming is a common practice, as is playing with words. In fact, writing keeps me balanced and able to handle life. There have been times where I was too busy or preoccupied to write for long stretches of time, and I was miserable. It was hell. I don’t recommend it to anyone. As soon as I start chasing down the characters and let them tell their tales, all is well in the world.

4. What is your writers’ Achilles Heel?

Learning that the book, story, or essay is never going to be as good as I want it to be, imagined it to be, or expected it to be. And, that is ok. For a long time, I kept my work in notebooks, keeping them only for myself. I’d never be as good as Milton, or Hemingway, so why bother? I think it was the acceptance of this fact that allowed me to move past it. As long as I fought it, and tried to prove it wrong, my work was stilted and stagnant. Eventually, I got fed up, said to hell with it all, and just wrote the damned story already. I wasn’t great. But it was okay. Sometimes, that’s enough.

5. Your new book, Angels of Perdition, is the second in a fantasy series in which two worlds collide, good is measured against evil and those who are hidden by shadows are not necessarily on the wrong side of the conflict. What is your personal connection to the setting and characters in your book?

So, I was walking home one night from I forget where. This was way back in the day – I’m talking cassette tape in a Walkman way back. As was my norm, I was listening to Queensryche on my headphones, the song “En Force” from the “Warning” album playing. This was what I loved about listening to music; it lifts you out of yourself. Anyway, in my head, I see an elf burst from the cover of trees at night, and run through the tall grass of the plains. I ran along beside him for a while, trying to figure out who he was and why he was running. He was too fast, and I lost him. Or I got to my door. I’m not sure which. It was back in the day, after all. But, the image stuck with me. Over the years, I came to understand that it wasn’t an elf, but rather an angel, or more precisely a Lethen’al.

6. Which character(s) do you most closely associate with, and why?

Rastef Rhom De’Veldrin, the Forever Man, the Son of the Apostate. In the series, he is created as the perfect vessel for his father / Creator, the Apostate Tarek. Rastef is ancient, cannot die, and as a result, has the most unusual ways of looking at things.

7. Is there something you didn’t know about a character in the first book that revealed itself to you during the writing of the second?

Logan Fel’Mekrin. I did not realize he was handicapped when I wrote book 1. In the Gates of Golorath, he is present for only a handful of chapters at the end. It was not until I wrote about his trials in the Sur, the Otherworld, that I began to realize that he was unable to communicate with the other Lethen’al telepathically. This is a common ability, and being unable to do so keeps him isolated and alone. I came to understand that a lot of his arrogance and aloofness were defense mechanisms.

8. What is your favorite thing to discuss with your readers?

Books. I love discussing books, and the craft of writing; everything from word choice to sentence structure, from drafting to editing and back again. Not exactly the academics of it, but rather, the metacognitive mechanics. How the plot worked, how the characters were developed, whether or not the setting was given enough consideration.

9. What is the most annoying question you get from your readers?

Not many annoy me. The only one that gives me pause is “Who are your characters based off of?” To be honest, they’re not based on anyone I have ever met in reality. While each character is unique in its own right, they are sometimes hard to find. I will oftentimes have to chase them down, writing page after page before I figure out their voice. But, that discovery is part of the fun of writing.

10. What are some of the life-changing books you’ve read, and why?

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco had a tremendous impact on me. It was the first ‘interpretive history’ book I’d read, and the first to really challenge the ideas I held about the world. Throughout the book it comes through that he’s playing, having fun with symbols and history. However, the book is so well done that you get the sneaking suspicion that while reading it on the subway, maybe you should hide the fact that you’re reading it, or else they’ll know that you know. The experience changed the way I looked at the world: I realized that it really is tinged with a touch of comedy to temper the overarching tragedy; and we view the world through a filter of our own making, and that this filter can be shifted and trans-mutated through our understanding. In the end, reality really is what you make of it.

Dune by Frank Herbert was another. The sweeping arc of its history, and how that history influenced the course of events in the story swept me away. In its own right, the novel can stand on its own as it tells the story of Mua’dib’s struggle for and rise to power. But even that is firmly influenced by the rest of the histories that came before it. The same holds true for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, with the firmness with which the story is set within the confines of a much larger mythology. Both of these prove the idea that the story you read does not need to contain every word written about it.

11. What is the one book you wish you had written, and why?

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. It’s got to be one of the greatest novels ever written. Not only does he want revenge, he’s delivered the means to contrive it. How awesome is that?

12. What is your greatest passion?

So, my wife tells me it’s her. Actually, its writing with her. We’re a great team. She sees what it is I am trying to do, and helps me take it to another level entirely. One of the greatest days of my life was when she decided to help me, and join me on my little obsession train. Now that I think about it, she was right all along.

13. Do you have other talents or hobbies?

I brew beer, paint, draw, am obsessed with knives and various other weapons, and am an avid reader.

14. What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Immune by David Kazzie last night. I’m a bit of a post-apocalyptic junkie. I plan on starting The Axe and the Throne by M.D Ireman in the next day or two.

15. Are there any new projects in your future? What’s next for you?

We’ll be releasing two novellas soon. These will be stand-alone stories, but will still take place in the Chaos universe. Both were written while working on Angels of Perdition. As I’ve mentioned, I need to sometimes chase a character down. Sometimes, it is a very long chase, and these were too good to just let go of. In addition to that, we have book 3, The Gathering of the Blades, to release in 2019, and a post-apocalyptic series that we’re working on as well.

16. And the question that everyone gets asked: Recommend one Netflix series I should watch!

The Haunting of Hill House. The characters are well rounded, well thought out, and the storyline keeps you guessing.

For more information about R.M. Garino, visit his website by clicking here.
If you are an author or promoter of books in any capacity and would like to be featured on this blog, send me a line about yourself and your book(s) to secure your spot.

Now, go forth, be spontaneous, ring in the New Year, and be ready for the great adventure that will be 2019!

Have a happy and extremely blessed 2019. Preferably filled with great books!

New Kid on the Blog: Zoe Tasia (@ZoeTasia)

This week of thankfulness and great shopping also brings another lovely thing with it: my special Thanksgiving edition of New Kids on the Blog, in which I have the privilege of sharing with you what I’ve learned of the beautiful Zoe Tasia! Book-lover extraordinaire, author and mother of two, Zoe is also co-author of a couple of wonderful books, which you’ll want to add to your TBR pile asap! Read the interview below to get to know Zoe a bit better, then grab a copy of one of her books to complete the experience. And have the Happiest Thanksgiving, or Thursday or whatever 😉

I remember the excitement I felt when I could pick out and read my first book. It brought me so much joy. I felt like new worlds were open to me and the experience seemed miraculous. I’ve been an insatiable reader ever since and always thought being an author would be the best job ever.

1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Okie. I grew up in a small town and graduated from the University of Oklahoma where I met my husband. We have two sons. Our youngest was born in Scotland, our home for over seven years after which we moved to Texas and remain.
I remember the excitement I felt when I could pick out and read my first book. It brought me so much joy. I felt like new worlds were open to me and the experience seemed miraculous. I’ve been an insatiable reader ever since and always thought being an author would be the best job ever.

2. You are an author and the other half of a writing team. Tell us about your books.

I co-author with Minette Lauren under the name Zari Reede. We have three books out. Our first book, Daisy Dukes ‘n Cowboy Boots, is a west Texas romance.
When a rich banker hires handsome lawyer Nolan Anderson to find a way to acquire certain acreage, Ferina Kincaid must struggle not only to keep her ranch, but to resist the attraction she feels for Nolan.

Our second book, Blinked, is a zany fantasy.
Mindy Nichols’s job is to destroy the diverse, violent beings transported, or “blinked”, to Earth. Then she meets Winnalea, the first “blinked” being that didn’t viciously attack. Mindy can’t kill the sweet, helpful woman who calls herself a Brownie. To complicate matters, Mindy’s husband, Jim, has “blinked” to Winnalea’s home world. Follow them as Mindy fights to follow her conscience and stand up to her boss and Jim navigates a topsy-turvy fairytale world inhabited by Cyclops, witches and dwarves.

Our third book, available for preorder, is a psychological thriller, Sins of the Sister. Private investigator Lana Madison knows her twin sister lives and will stop at nothing to find her. No matter how dangerous it is.

Preorder here!

3. What motivates you to write?

It’s inherent and a part of who I am, my identity. I’ve always had a great imagination and told stories before I could write them down.

4. What is your writers’ Achilles Heel?

I dread editing, but the worst is writing blurbs. Coming up with only a few sentences to explain your book and entice readers is so difficult.

5. Your latest book, Blinked, is an urban fantasy set in the 70s. What is your personal connection to this historic period/the characters in your book?

My reason for choosing the time period was two-fold. I wanted the setting to be in the past so the characters would have communication difficulties and their world would be lower tech. However, I also wanted the era to be one with which I had some familiarity. I grew up in the 70s and it was a time of turmoil and eye-opening experiences, so I thought it was fitting.

6. What is your favorite thing to discuss with your readers?

I have readers?! I still get giddy about that. I’m happy discussing anything book-related. Be it my own or someone else’s. I particularly enjoy answering questions where I’m able to elaborate and share facets of the character that are not revealed in the book.

7. What is the most annoying question you get from your readers?

I can’t think of one particular question, but the attitude that anyone can be an author, easy-peasy and, that when I’m busy doing my job, it isn’t looked upon as being as important bothers me.

8. What are some of the life-changing books you’ve read, and why?

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was important because it was the first book I read by an Oklahoman author and, holy moly! The author’s a woman! I realized that yes, being a writer was possible. S.E. Hinton did it, maybe this Oklahoman girl could too. The Wizard of Oz by Baum was the first fantasy series book I read, my introduction to one of my most favorite genres. My love of it also made me more open to other genres like science fiction. Diana Gabaldon’s first book, Outlander, was published as Cross Stitch in the UK where I read it. In fact, I met her at a book signing there. I was amazed she had never visited Scotland until after she wrote her novel. I wouldn’t have guessed and it gave me confidence to write about places and things I knew nothing about, at least until I researched, or experienced.

9. What is the one book you wish you had written, and why?

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The premise is clever, the humor cracks me up, and I love the unusual formatting.

10. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome as an author?

While I lived in Aberdeen, I had viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain due to a virus. I don’t remember six weeks of my life. I had numerous seizures and memory loss. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t follow a simple sitcom. Time passed. I healed. I got most of my memories back and my short-term memory improved enough that I could read a book again. Prior to the illness, I took several writing courses and submitted some short stories. I felt I was really making progress and on my way to becoming an author. It took me a long time to get the confidence to write again, but eventually I did. My co-author suggested a writing exercise. She sent me the first paragraph of a story which I added on to and sent back. This eventually became our first book.

11. What are some of your triumphs as an author?

Getting published will never cease to give me joy and a sense of accomplishment. I’m thrilled that my first solo book, Kilts and Catnip (Book 1 of The Shrouded Isle Series), is coming out soon. I’ve been on a book panel and multiple book signings. Maybe someday, it will all seem commonplace, but now, every little authorly thing elates me.

We are lucky enough to get the very first look at the cover of Kilts and Catnip, Zoe Tasia’s first solo publication!

12. You have a book blog where you also review/discuss books. What prompted you to start blogging about books? Do you have a favorite genre and why?

At some level, I knew reviews were important, but I didn’t start writing them until I read a book by a new indie author and saw that he had just a handful of reviews. I couldn’t believe someone that wrote so well didn’t have more fans, so I wrote a review of his book to get the news out. I began a blog shortly before Daisy Dukes came out and quickly discovered that I’m not a big blogger. Since I already wrote reviews, I started posting them on my site.
I enjoy fantasy the most, where anything can happen.

13. What was the first book you blogged about, and why?

The first book I blogged about was Thicker Than Blood by Andrew Dudek. He didn’t have many reviews plus he had a couple of bad ones which can bring down the star rating quite a bit. I liked the book and wanted to be supportive.

Read the review here.

14. What is your greatest passion?

Reading and writing, of course. Cats, … I’m bonkers for cats and follow Catlady on social media.

15. Do you have other talents or hobbies?

I’m a bit of a fitness freak. As the kid that was the last one to be picked for a team, the fact that I ran a marathon amazes me. I love dancing and took classes as a child. I used to Greek dance with a group, but after I tore my meniscus, I gave it up. I tried belly dancing, which was great fun.

16. What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a fantasy book by Rick Gualtieri, Sunset Strip.

17. Are there any new projects in your future? What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing Book 2 of The Shrouded Isle series, tentatively titled Tartan and Thyme. I also plan to write Shrouded Isle holiday short stories. I have one ready to publish and several others I’m working on. I have written the first of another fantasy series that I need to edit and several projects I’ve begun and need to finish. I’m exploring other genres such as cozy mystery and magical realism.

18. And the question that everyone gets asked: Recommend one Netflix series I should watch ☺

The latest good one I saw was season one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but if you haven’t seen Red Dwarf or one of my “why-was-this-cancelled?” favorites, Wonderfalls, you should.

What a great lady! And some awesome new suggestions for reads and series! Thank you, Zoe!
Now, there’s really only one more thing left to do (apart from stuffing your face with turkey): go to AuthorShout’s website and vote for my own book, The Deermaster. You know you want to 😉

And have a wonderful weekend, filled with great new books!

New Kids on the Blog

Are you a writer? Do you have an awesome book or project you’re just dying to share with the world? Then why don’t you contact me about being one of my New Kids on the Blog?! You can guest post or interview with me or, if you’re so inclined, send me a little bit of reading from your awesome new book to share with the entire populace of the wicked web! So, hit those keys and blog a tune for me. And share share share!

Goodreads Fantasy Week and a Kindle Countdown Deal

What’s better than fantasy week? Getting cheap/free books during fantasy week!

Yes, you read that right. This week is the Goodreads Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre week and I’ve got just the thing to celebrate with: A YA Fantasy novella with rogue reindeer and evil clauses: The Deermaster.

So, in honor of the awesome service Goodreads provides to readers and lovers of scifi/fantasy everywhere, The Deermaster will be available as a Kindle Countdown Deal from 24 August, 2018 until 31 August, 2018! That means MASSIVE savings on an awesome book! Who can beat that?! The sooner you drop by, the cheaper you get the book, so don’t delay!

But wait! There’s more!

To sweeten the deal even more, you will also be able to get my romcom-scifi short story “Out Of This World” for FREE during the last two days of August 2018! Because embarking on out-of-this-world adventures is what reading books is all about!

Happy Spring! (if you’re in the southern hemisphere, like me), or happy Fall! (if you’re not) 🙂

And most of all, happy reading!

Remember the three Rs:  “Read, Review, Recommend”.

 

 

A short story about my home town, Rustenburg

When I was a little girl growing up in Rustenburg, I was the only girl living on our street. There were boys aplenty, though, and I soon understood that if I simply watched them play cricket and rugby and cowboys & crooks and cars, I was going to miss out on some of the best years of my childhood. So I was known as a bit of a tomboy. A girl among boys. Playing with their toys. Playing with Hot Wheels cars in the dirt or racing against them on ancient consoles while eating peanut-butter sandwiches. Those are the childhood memories that stick with me most: the way we looked at those cars and imagined the real thing, the speed at which a toy car could be launched into the air on a homemade ramp with a little bit of help from a rubber band, the cities we built with cereal boxes and plastic crates. I grew up loving those cars and what they represent, and at least in that way, my new short story, Hot Wheels, is an homage to my earliest associations with Rustenburg. The N4 highway came much later, and later still the ghosts of memories of those lost too early.

Hot Wheels is centered around a toy Hot Wheels car and the way such a small thing can sometimes touch a life or shape a future. It’s a story of loss, of grief and guilt, but more importantly, it’s a story about motherhood and it is now available on all major digital platforms for free for a limited time. Not too limited though, so share the news. There’ll be plenty of time for your friend, lover, brother, mother, grandmother, colleague and neighbour to download their copy.

Check out the links below to get your copy today, and as always, if you liked what you read, please rate and review at your preferred outlet!

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Amazon (USA):

Amazon (UK)

Scribd

Smashwords

Indigo

Have a great weekend! Drive safely.

My short stories now available on Scribd!

If you’re a reader, which I sincerely hope you are, then you’ll have heard of Scribd by now. If you haven’t, here’s the low-down: Scribd is a subscription service for all things bookish and a lovely way to pay a little for a lot of reading material. Each month, for only $8.99 you get *unlimited access to their large catalogue of books, magazines, audiobooks and documents, which can be accessed from your phone, tablet or computer at your convenience! And now, to make the deal even sweeter, my short stories are available for Scribd subscribers both in Afrikaans and English! The full “Nuwe Stories” short story series (Afrikaans Edition) is available for your reading pleasure. The series consists of three anthologies: Nuwe Stories, Nuwe Stories 2 and Nuwe Stories 3, each comprising a collection of Afrikaans language short stories from millennial writers such as myself. And of course my own short stories are there too. Look out for “Onder die Brug” (Nuwe Stories), “‘n Kis vir Boel” (Nuwe Stories 2) and “Utopia” (Nuwe Stories 3).

Nuwe Stories, ISBN 9780798156448. Now available on Scribd!

Nuwe Stories 2 – ISBN: 9780798164627. Now available on Scribd!

Nuwe Stories 3, ISBN: 9780798167987. Now available on Scribd!

If Afrikaans isn’t really your thing, I have a special treat for readers of the slightly more widely spoken English language. My latest short story, “Hot Wheels“, is now also available on Scribd.

Hot Wheels: A Short Story. ISBN: 9780463642849.
Now available on Scribd!

So get clicking and start reading, and remember, if you liked what you read, review and recommend!

Get your Scribd subscription here. Click on the book names above to read each book on Scribd.

Happy reading!

“The Deermaster: A Christmas Novella” free ’til Christmas Day!

Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, not only because it brings together family and friends and reminds us to be humble, thankful and charitable, but because Christmas is that time of year when one can really feel the air crackle with magic. The magic, for most of us, lies in the Christmas spirit, the excitement that surrounds preparing to have friends and family over and, most importantly, the reasons why we choose to celebrate: what we believe.
In my new Christmas novella, The Deermaster, Chris Claussen wishes Christmas could be this straightforward, but for the inhabitants of Snow Falls, Christmas holds a different meaning altogether. Only one person can be The Deermaster, but what if he is completely ill-equipped for the job and non-committal to boot?
This Christmas, follow Chris Claussen and Carol Stern into the perilous North Pole, where nothing is what it seems and simple acts of goodwill can be more dangerous than a pack of starving wolves in sub-zero temperatures.
Get your copy free on Kindle from 21 December, 2017 until 25 December, 2017 and be sure to share! To make this Christmas extra special, I’ve designed a gift-certificate that will allow you to gift The Deermaster to friends and family for Christmas. Please remember though, The Deermaster will only be free for downloading until the 25th of December, 2017 at midnight PST or in South Africa until 10:00 on 26 December, 2017.

Click below to preview, “buy” and share The Deermaster. This book is also available in paperback format. Click here to buy it.

Click on the image below to open the gift certificate, which you can then download, email or print for friends and family! Do you live in the UK, Australia, Canada, or somewhere else? Send me an email to christina *(at) christinavandeventer.com and I will happily send you a gift certificate for your respective Amazon Online Market. *Replace with @

Last, but not least, have a wonderful Christmas 2017!

‘The Boy With The Coin: A Short Story’ Free on Amazon Kindle this Star Wars day!

Perhaps it would have been better if the boy had a lightsaber, but he doesn’t. Coins have greater value to fatherless children. Or perhaps it’s simply because lightsabers are probably, kind of, a little too sci-fi for this particular tale. Nevertheless, if you download ‘The Boy With The Coin’ today, or tomorrow, it is a sign that the force is strong within you!

Also, the story is about an old man, a young boy, and, maybe not very surprisingly, a coin! ‘The Boy With The Coin’ is free on Amazon Kindle on 4 and 5 May, 2017. It is always free on Kindle Unlimited.

‘A Ghost In The Darkness: A Short Story’ free this weekend on Kindle and KindleUnlimited

We’ve all known that kid in school. Every school has one. An angel. A kid who is perfect, loved by the teachers, adored by the students. But if every school has an angel, there is usually a demon hiding in its shadows. At St. Joseph’s Academy for Boys it is no different. And the angel brings out the worst in the demon.
Read my new short story, ‘A Ghost In The Darkness’ to find out what happens. It’s available for free on Kindle today (03/04/2017) and tomorrow (03/05/2017). It’s always free on KindleUnlimited.

Bobby: Man’s best friend as you’ve never seen him before

 

Also available for Kindle at Amazon

I was introduced to Elizabeth Pienaar at the NB Books Authors’ Party earlier this year. A small, beautiful blonde woman with an open face and infectious smile. She was easy to talk to, even easier to listen to, as she is smart, well informed and a good conversationalist. That was my first impression, before we started talking shop.

What are you working on/getting published?

A new book, about to be released, she said. A Young Adult book called Bobby.

Young Adult? I had read only the week before that a multitude of American authors are suddenly finding themselves ranked as YA writers without ever having intended their work for that market. Did you write it as such? I asked.

She hadn’t, but it had become labelled during the publishing process. Labelled for teens, so it could be sold to teens.

What’s it about?

It’s about a dog, told from the dog’s perspective.

Pretty much the perfect elevator pitch, I thought. She hadn’t even needed two minutes. One sentence had me hooked.

Fast Forward two months.

In a charming bookstore in the heart of Melville, the lights are on tonight. Laughter flows out of the two entrances to Love Books at the Bamboo Centre on Rustenburg Road. Leopard’s Leap wine glows in every glass. Beautiful food disrupts happy conversation. In the midst of it all is Elizabeth, taking it all in. They are all here for her, but what they really came for is the book. A book, based on true events, inspired by the life of one creature that many would count insignificant. A dog. An animal so easily taken for granted, overlooked, forgotten. For the lucky few who understand, an animal which should never be taken for granted, overlooked or underestimated.

Elizabeth understands.

She speaks with mirth about her method as a writer, about discipline and belief. She speaks about Bobby, the real Bobby, with great love, from heartfelt remembrance. She looks with reverence to the couple who gave Bobby his final home. Arthur and Ingrid. They are among the attendees.

When she reads from her book, my signed copy burns me through its brown paper bag. I could have bought it a few weeks ago on Kindle, but then I wouldn’t be reading the real thing. Then I wouldn’t be able to hold the paper copy in my hands with the same anticipation, the same first-read jitters.

The cover is beautifully simple. A girl and a dark-coloured Alsatian with hazelnut eyes. A book that every dog-lover would pick up. A book that everyone else might pass by, not knowing what they missed.

 

“People coming, people coming to look!” Elizabeth Pienaar – Bobby

 

I met Bobby on page one. I’d heard about him, read snippets about him, but until I met him I couldn’t have understood the immensity of his presence. Bobby embodies every look, every wag of the tail, every yelp, or bark or whimper of every dog who ever lived. Bobby is the book you read to your children so they can understand the importance of being kind to animals. It’s the book you give to someone who’s been unfortunate enough to have to deal with the loss of a beloved companion. It’s the book that was written expressly to remind us that dogs are not pets, or protectors or mere companions. Dogs are family. And if you treat them right, they’ll love you more than is humanly possible.

Bobby tells the story of a dog who loses his human to death. Afterwards he is repeatedly abandoned by his caretakers until he ends up in a care facility, awaiting adoption or death. Along with so many of his kind waiting for someone to notice them, there is no knowing which of the two will come first.

On the other side of the special barrier, a young girl finds it hard to overcome her grief after losing her dog to Cancer.

Elizabeth Pienaar understands the human condition. She understands what grief is, that everybody deals with it in their own way and that it often defines who we become. In Bobby we have to deal with a new form of grief, a new understanding of our own reactions to the grief of others, whether they are human or not.

This book is not just for teenagers. Young Adult is not an apt label. It should have been labelled more distinctly. It should have been labelled “For humans”. It should be sold in pet stores, at shelters, by breeders and vets. Anyone with a beating heart should get a copy of Bobby. And since you’re going to the bookstore anyway, why not grab one for your friend, sibling, parent, grandparent or boss?

Get Elizabeth Pienaar’s fantastic debut novel (R120) at your local bookstore or buy it from Amazon via Kindle. Also available in Afrikaans as Bobbie. To learn more about the author, visit her website at: elizabethpienaar.com